Light Lifting. Alexander Macleod. In the Argo Catalog.
Alexander has some pretty big shoes to fill. Him writing is like the Trudeau boy going into politics, it seems like a good idea, it seems like his childhood likely to have prepared him somewhat for the lifestyle. And yet, it is not such a good idea because the expectations are rather high. I mean, it is not like Eli and Peyton Manning whose father was a mediocre NFL quarterback on a less than average team. We are talking about Peyton’s son trying to be an NFL QB. It is asking for trouble. As I read the book I tried to ignore the hype and just consider the book for what it is. I think it is a book that demonstrates his youth as a writer and shows a lot of promise.
The stories that make up the book are very uneven. The first and last are far superior to the others. Light Lifting itself is sort of a let-down of a story, I am not sure why it was deemed the title story. The stories, even the better ones, tend to ramble on much longer than was needed or necessary. I suspect every one of them would benefit from a 25% culling in size. There are blissfully profound lines but they are simply to few and far between, an experienced writer would have recognized the strengths and played off them better.
There are several stories in the book that are very boring, exactly the sort of pedestrian stuff that CanLit haters love to mock. I am not sure why this is on the Giller list. Maybe one day he will win one but not with this set of stories (I hope). I have read superior collections of short stories that are more interesting, more exciting, demonstrating a greater grasp of literary writing, a clearer vision of the world and offering better/deeper insights into human nature by young Canadian writers. Macleod hints towards this but gets stuck in a conservative CanLit format/feeling. He is like a caterpillar that has partly left the cocoon, I hope he makes it the rest of the way with his next book, which I will certainly read.